Sent by D W
Based in Angmering
Hello, thank you for taking the time to visit my page.
I'm Sally-Jo, as your independent Travel Counsellor I'll arrange all the necessary travel plans for you and your travelling companions, whether you're travelling as one, a couple, group of friends, family or extended family.
I have 18 years experience working in the travel industry creating tailor-made itineraries for individuals and small groups for their annual summer beach or winter ski holidays to much larger groups on special interest tours such as nature watching, archaeological, cultural, charity challenges. This experience has taught me that people travel for many different reasons, not just the annual family getaway. Every reason for travel needs to be understood in order to create your perfect itinerary.
Wherever it is you wish to travel be it for a beach, cruise, city break, ski, scuba diving, sailing, adventure, safari, cultural, wedding, honeymoon, flights and UK breaks, I have a breadth of experience at my finger tips and will be able to create the holiday you are looking for.
I'm really fortunate to have travelled to many places incorporating family package holidays, adventure, independent travel, visiting friends and family, working overseas, skiing, scuba diving and sailing. My travels have taken me to Europe, North America, Central America, Africa, Asia, Middle East, Caribbean, and more recently Antarctica but there are still so many more places to visit.
What matters to me is that I give you the best personal service, so that you will genuinely be happy to recommend me on to your friends and family. Be mindful not to keep my business a secret though, your recommendation is my livelihood, that's a real incentive to get your holiday right for you.
I love being a Travel Counsellor. I love the freedom to spend my time really getting to know you and what you want from your travel experiences, to be able to share my experience, all with the aim to make your travel dreams a reality.
I'm here to help you by email, phone or face to face. For my clients there’s no call centre queue, no internet trawling, no waiting in line on the high street, just me, working with you to achieve your travel plans, customer service the traditional way, person to person.
Don’t delay, please do call (or email) me today, I really look forward to planning your holiday with you soon.
Not quite Bond-esque Casino Royale style arrival by sail boat but nevertheless the most breathtaking scene….. next time I must take my Daniel Craig with me!!
We had so much fun tobogganing of an evening from our chalet. Apologies the lighting is not that great but I love this video, gets me chuckling everytime.
The descent into Lud's Church, an atmospheric, moss-covered chasm that hides plenty of secrets
I absolutely live and breathe travel and I love to write about my experiences! Please take a look through my posts - you might find your own holiday inspiration.
04 September 2023
Copenhagen, the vibrant capital of Denmark, is a city that seamlessly blends modern lifestyle with centuries-old history. Known for its stunning architecture, walkable streets, and relaxed atmosphere, it's the perfect destination for a short city break. During my two-night stay at the Scandic Kodbyen, I had the opportunity to immerse myself in the city's unique culture, explore iconic landmarks, indulge in local delicacies, and soak up the serene vibe that is Copenhagen. Hotel Scandic Kodbyen, is a chic and contemporary hotel located in the re-purposed industrial area of Kodbyen. Once functioning as the meat packing district (not so enticing!) is now a popular area known for its trendy dining scene and buzzing nightlife. With its stylish design and comfortable amenities, the hotel provides the perfect base for this 2night city adventure. Its near central location also ensures that you're never far from the city's most captivating attractions, whilst being an affordable option. I had only a day and half to explore, so I choose a self-guided walking tour…. well researched of course, I don’t know how to do it any other way!! Day 1: Architectural Marvels and Culinary Delights The Round Tower: This iconic landmark is nestled in the quaint, cobbled streets of central Copenhagen. As you ascend the internal spiral walkway, the cityscape unfolds, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the city, showcasing Copenhagen's unique mix of historic and modern architecture. Jens Olsens World Clock: A fascinating kinetic sculpture located in City Hall. This intricate astronomical timepiece, 12 years in the making, is set to calculate time, dates and planetary positions for thousands of years to come. An intriguing blend of art and functionality which I found quite mesmerising. Torvehallern Market: For lunch, head to Torvehallern Market, a foodie paradise where you can savour an array of local and international delicacies. From Danish pastries to smørrebrød (open-faced sandwiches), this market is a sensory delight that showcases the city's culinary diversity. Nyhavn: In the afternoon, stroll along the picturesque Nyhavn waterfront, lined with colourful historic buildings and alfresco dining. This charming canal district is an Instagram-worthy spot. Day 2: Serenity in Parks and Café Delights Ørstedsparken and Findt&Orsted Cafe: Start your day with a leisurely walk through Ørstedsparken, a serene urban park. Amidst lush greenery, alongside a small lake I discovered Findt&Orsted, a charming café nestled within the park. Enjoy a cup of coffee and a Danish pastry as you soak in the peaceful atmosphere. I could have spent hours here with a good book :-)) Trattoria Fiat: For lunch, head to Trattoria Fiat, a cozy Italian restaurant that offers a delightful mix of Mediterranean flavours. Indulge in a leisurely meal while planning the rest of your day's explorations. Bike Rental: Copenhagen is known as one of the world's most bike-friendly cities, and renting a bike is a fantastic way to navigate its streets. With dedicated bike lanes and a flat terrain, cycling offers a unique and efficient way to see the city's attractions. Transportation and Sightseeing Options: • Metro from the Airport: Getting to the city centre from the airport is a breeze with Copenhagen's efficient metro system. A direct line connects you to various parts of the city, making your arrival & departure hassle-free. • Afloat: Experience Copenhagen's beauty from the water with a river boat tour. These tours offer a different perspective of the city's architecture and landmarks, providing unique photo opportunities. You can also rent kayaks / paddleboards. • Seaplane Sightseeing Trips: For a truly unforgettable experience, consider taking a seaplane sightseeing trip. Soar above the city and its surrounding landscapes, capturing a bird's-eye view of Copenhagen's stunning layout. Conclusion: A 2-night city break in Copenhagen, while short, is incredibly fulfilling. From the architectural wonders like The Round Tower and Jens Olsens World Clock to the culinary delights of Torvehallern Market and Trattoria Fiat, you'll find yourself immersed in the heart of Danish culture. The ease of exploration through bike rentals and well-connected public transportation, combined with the relaxation offered by places like Ørstedsparken and Nyhavn, make this getaway an experience to cherish. Copenhagen's blend of history, modernity, and walkability guarantees that every corner you explore will leave you with lasting memories of a captivating city escape. If you’d like to book your Copenhagen city break, please do get in touch.
26 August 2023
Holiday conundrum!…. Blended families, comprising 2adults, 5children-ish (13,14,15,18,19)….. require somewhere hot, near water, with mountains, local outdoor activities, relaxation down time and a location that allows some independence for the kiddos. Bingo, Slovenia!!! Itinerary - August 8nights, Vila Vita Apartments in alpine resort, Kranjska Gora (KG) 2nights, B&B Slamic in capital city, Ljubljana KG is a small town with a warm village vibe, nestled in the Julian Alpes just shy of the Italian and Austrian borders. The summer months attract many a hiker, cyclist, activity junkie and golfer. In the winter the skiing is perfect for beginners and new intermediates, small ski area in size but huge on scenery. It’s a relaxing village, perfectly geared up for hotel or self-catering and is great value for money compared to the bigger European ski resorts. Within 20mins walk along a wooded forest trail as it meanders alongside the Sava River is Lake Jasna. Surrounding the lake are places to eat and drink, ice creams or take a picnic as we did. You can rent paddle boards for approx. 10Euros. We spent a few relaxing afternoons around the lake, most enjoyable way to pass a few hours. KG has one chair lift open during the summer. From the top of the 15min chair lift follow a trail for 1hr 40mins up a steep incline as it winds its way through shady forest of larch, beech and pine. Occasional glimpses of stunning vista’s encourage you to the summit of Mt Vitranc (1638m). There’s plenty of other hikes in the area, all of which can be found online, via the village Tourist Information Centre. The village toboggan run is great fun. Chairlift & Toboggan was 14/18Euro adult/child. The local golf course is a gem! A 9hole course (can be played as 18), gently hugging the banks of the Sava River, with surrounding mountain peaks. There’s a couple of challenging holes that traverse the river, hit it right and you’ll glide over the river, onto the green…. beautiful! We hired two sets of clubs, and a buggy, bought balls/tee’s too for 95Euro total. It’s a great place for cycling either easy trails or challenging mountain tracks. Bike hire was 15Euro for a full day (plus helmet). A day tripped to Postojna Caves, is worth the 1hr45mins roadtrip. Recommend booking your tickets online. A 24km long series of caves, halls and passages carved out by the Pivka River over the last two million years. There are several other cave systems in Slovenia that you could also visit. During the 1.5hrs tour you get to see 5km of the cave; 3.2km of this is on a quirky electric train, the remainder by foot. Postojna Cave has a constant temperature of 8°C to 10°C, with 95% humidity, so a warm jacket and decent shoes are advised. Entrance is 18/30Euro (child/adult), for the caves only. You can also package the caves with entrance to Predjama Castle and other activities too. Vintgar Gorge I really enjoyed. Really recommend pre-booking to skip the queue, 3/10Euro (ch/ad). The gorge is 1600m long and up to 250m deep on the eastern edge of the Triglav National Park, 4km northwest of the centre of Bled. There are a couple of refreshment huts along the way but we took a picnic and had it by the river at the end of the gorge. A refreshing welcome dip for the over-heated feet. Lake Bled is a stunningly beautiful setting, a picturesque church on a solitary island, with a majestic castle presiding high over the lakeside. Be prepared, Bled is expensive to park approx. 5hrs was 36Euro. Our Bled activity was Zip Line Dolinka, they claim to be the longest zipline in Europe, 7 ziplines each of 350m-700m in length. For someone who doesn’t like adrenaline, extreme speed, or open heights, I was so impressed with their claim to refund the 75Euro pp if they couldn’t encourage me to complete it that I signed up! I’m so proud to have achieved the whole course…. never again though! For landlubbers the lake is an easy 6km circuitry route. For water babes, swim, rent SUP’s, row boat, or take a boat ride to the island. Bled is a great outdoor pursuits activity hub offering river rafting, canyoning, kayaking, paragliding, bike rental, golf and much more, plenty enough to keep you busy for a few days. And finally our last two nights we headed to Ljubljana, Slovenia's capital and largest city. It's known for its university population and green spaces, including expansive Tivoli Park. The curving Ljubljanica River, lined with cobbled streets and outdoor cafes, divides the city's old town from its commercial hub. Ljubljana has many museums. Great place for a 3night city break, I was pleasantly surprised how relaxed and uncrowded it felt. In summary I would happily return to Slovenia, to explore more in the mountains and visit the coastal areas. Be you family/solo/couple, looking for single/twin/multiple centres, fly & flop, activity & adventure or city break, Slovenia has it all and does it with natural beauty and a fine welcoming hospitality. Big thumbs up for Slovenia. Get in touch if you’d like to plan a holiday to Slovenia.
06 March 2023
What a fantastic 4night break taking in 3 golf courses & the crazy buzz of Marrakech. Marrakech is really beginning to make its mark as a great option for a golf break, offering considerably more value for money than the usual Algarve & Spanish options. Beautiful golfing oasis in the desert suburbs, within 20/30mins taxi of Marrakech centre. There’s plenty of golf course options, lovely wide fairways, greens that run as fast as a marble on glass, bunkers galore, lakes & rivers, very challenging no matter your handicap and all to a beautiful backdrop of the Atlas Mountain foothills. I can arrange your hassle free golfing holiday to include flights, accommodation, return airport transfers and daily golfing transfers. If you have a mixed group that may not want to golf or maybe you also want some culture, and/or spa, then Marrakech has it all and I can arrange excursions to get the most out of your holiday. Drop me a line with your enquiry, I’m excited to get you teeing off.
04 December 2022
My Top 5 Travel Essentials Having recently returned from travelling I thought I’d share my top 5 travel essentials that made a significant difference to my travel experience. You’ll find a link at the end for ease of purchase if you so wish. Carhartt Beanie Hat The perfect accessory for travels to colder climes. No more itchy forehead, this is the softest, most comfortable beanie hat I’ve ever worn. It comes in a selection of colours and styles, with and without pom poms. I love the look of the pom pom but it doesn’t fit easily if you also need a water/wind proof hood over the top so I travelled with two beanies, one with pom pom, one without…… problem solved! Crossbody Travel Bag This is possibly the best solution I have found that provides safety of documents & money, is comfortable to wear. I also think it looks stylish. With multiple pockets, I was easily able to carry passport, travel documents, phone, reading glasses, pen and iPad, with everything being easy to access and in its own little section. Comes in a few colours, strap is adjustable to body size. It also fits discretely under a hoodie/coat etc. Travel Belt I use the Travel Belt in conjunction with the Crossbody Travel bag. So I haven’t got all my worldly goods in one place I split my credit/debit cards and cash, some in the Crossbody bag for immediate ease of access, some in the Travel Belt should something untoward happen to the more accessible Crossbody bag. Travel Adapter Charge your phone, tablet and headphones all at once with this Worldwide Travel Adapter with 4usb ports. Suitable to more than 200 countries including onboard cruises (check you cruise ship spec to be sure). Taking just this one adapter meant a good luggage space saving. Make sure you take it in your hand luggage though, you may need to charge enroute if your travels are unexpectedly delayed. Luggage Vacuum Storage Bags I’m not sure why I haven’t discovered these sooner….. my loss will hopefully be your gain. With limited luggage size allowance on my recent travels these bags allowed me to reduce the size of the suitcase contents, without having to compromise on what I packed. So whether you’re limited in size for your hold or cabin luggage these handy vacuum storage bags will ensure you don’t have to get the family sitting in your luggage so you can zip it up!!! For your ease, to buy any of my top 5 travel essentials, copy this link into your browser and shop away www.beacons.ai/lyhd.
28 November 2022
Antarctica, the seventh continent. The one place on my bucket list that I never really thought I’d achieve, it’s expensive, right? Fortunately for me, some stars aligned and the opportunity presented itself. I didn’t want a holiday, I wanted an adventure, an experience, something that would be challenging as a first time solo traveller in her 50’s, to a destination not yet visited, to see and experience new things. I was so nervous before departure….. I was popping Kalms like no tomorrow! What was I nervous about? Have I packed everything? Have I got all my tickets, joining instructions, emergency contact numbers, enough money in the right currency.….. my anxiety was mostly about logistics, of transfers arriving (or not), luggage going astray, personal and money/passport safety. I was doing this trip largely on my own, so if something went wrong, it was going to be me that would have to resolve the issue…. daunting and exciting! Prior and post Antarctic cruise I visited Santiago de Chile and Buenos Aires but I’m not really going to touch on these places in this blog. Only to say I did have some logistical and technological challenges which presented themselves at in opportune moments…. suffice to say, I’m pleased I read my travel documents warning about airport transfer scams (I’m one of those ‘read the small print’ people!) and I’ve learned firstly, to travel with two means of communication (phone & tablet), secondly what to do when your phone screen is dead! If you want to know more then drop me a line. During the first few days of getting to know fellow cruise mates, our initial conversations of bonding were, “why did you book Antarctica?”. For the most part the answers were “ why not”, “because I haven’t done it yet”, “I’ve done the other six continents”….. answers as if it’s some right of passage to tick this final box of conquest. I guess I had some of that in me too. No-one I spoke with said they were wildlife buffs or die hard birdwatchers…… most were there on some kind of ego journey to find some higher experience yet to be achieved, which no doubt would be boasted of on return home. I was expecting an older clientele on the cruise, that my 52 years would grant me youth status….. unexpectedly the age range was 23-82, the average being 41. By all accounts this was unusually low by normal standards. Having survived a gentle first crossing of Drakes Passage notoriously the worlds roughest seas, I remember waking and seeing my first iceberg through the cabin portal. I felt a sudden rush of excitement, shot me right back to six years old SJ on Christmas morning. This was the first moment I realised this was not only about exploring a destination, it was also an opportunity to relive the feelings and excitement that course through your veins as a child… feelings that life often dampen down. Over the 11 days spent cruising between 8 locations and crossing Drakes Passage we were kitted with specialist outdoor wear, learnt about bio-security, informed by daily recaps and briefings, participated in wildlife research surveys, educated on seals, sea birds, penguins and whales, global environmental impacts, Antarctic history, living and working in Antarctica, and IAATO (International Assoc. Antarctic Tour Operators) and the work they do to ensure bio-security with tight tourism restrictions. I had really been looking forward to the lectures but I had no idea how much it would enhance my experience of being in Antarctica. I’m writing this blog from the cocooning warmth of Compass Lounge aboard Intrepid Travels ship Ocean Endeavour. As I gaze out the window, I see land and icebergs disappearing from view as we pull away from the shelter of the Melchior Islands and head back across Drakes Passage. Unexpectedly I’m completely overwhelmed by a wave of emotion bringing me to tears. I have felt the wildest whipping winds, the norm for penguins huddling together as seen in an Attenborough program. I’ve eaten the largest, purest snowflakes falling from the skies, scooped handfuls from the untrodden meters deep drifts to quench my thirst. I’ve visited the historical basic huts used by British Antarctic Survey in the 1970’s. Seen icebergs the size of the ship and some. Gazed at the bluest icebergs carved off ancient glaciers. I’ve kayaked alongside Gentoo penguins, seen seals, sea birds, albatross and waited endlessly with anticipation at the fascination of seeing humpback whales blow, breach and display their tails, such wondrous sights and sounds. Reflecting on my experiences with Antarctica, I depart, not only in tears but in total awe. In awe of the wildlife, the landscape and the deep emotions it has stirred in me. I’ve a new found love and respect for this wildest, most majestic, humbling of continents. I don’t often give thanks in a blog but I would like to say thank you to UKAHT for all your hard work digging out postcards from Port Lockroy Penguin Post Office stores. Thank you to IAATO for all you do to preserve this beautiful continent. Finally thank you to Intrepid Travel for facilitating my journey with Antarctica, such an awesome team. Antarctica is no right of passage. Although sad this is over, I am eternally grateful and happy for the joy that is Antarctica. I arrived possibly as an experience ticking tourist but definitely depart as a privileged and humbled Antarctic Ambassador. Please get in touch if you’d like to hear more or are interested in your own journey with Antarctica.
07 July 2022
It’s two years overdue but finally I made it to Venice with my friend Caroline for my (now belated) 50th birthday celebrations….. I thank her for her patience in waiting to celebrate with me!! We booked the Hotel Serenissima for late March 2022, Thursday to Sunday, just a perfect 3 nights getaway. The journey was easy, Easyjet flights from Gatwick, Alilaguna Water Taxi from Airport to Venice. If you’re staying in San Marco district as we were, I’d recommend taking the Blue Line Alilaguna into Venice as the approach into St Marks Square pontoon is just breath-taking….. I was reminded of scenes from Bond’s Casino Royale, next time I’ll take ‘my’ Daniel Craig with me! Our hotel was tucked away in one of the back streets of San Marco district, surprisingly affordable given it was just a very short 4 minute walk to St Marks Square. A perfect location for us. Our aim for the mini break was to walk, explore and see what we stumbled across (much as we did in London if you read that blog). Just to roll with the day with little plan other than to soak up the atmosphere. We made a nod to tourist sightseeing by popping into St Marks Square & Basilica which was well worth the 5minute queue time and 3Euro ….from what I understand this is an unusually short wait time, possibly a post pandemic thing, I would have been prepared to wait longer and pay more to see inside The Basilica, well worth it. As we meandered through the ancient narrow alleys, we happened upon many piazza’s… as they screamed out to us to stop, we took the instruction, found a café, ordered an Aperol Spritz and just embraced the ‘continental pavement café culture’, moment in time. In advance of our travels, we had looked into buying weekend passes for the river taxis. I’m glad we didn’t as we would have missed out on so much of inner Venice, the beautiful little courtyards sprinkled amongst the residential districts, stylish doorbells, ornate clocks and hidden shrines. We had no interest in hiring a gondola, but instead spent a leisurely lunch dangling our legs over the dockside of a busy Gondola junction, watching them pass by and playing an impromptu game of Gondola Roulette….. if you want the game rules, you’ll have to book a trip with me! Whilst there we booked a boat trip to the islands of Murano, famous for its glasswork, and Burano for its pretty coloured houses and lace making history. I’ve wanted to go to Murano since I visited Atlantis The Palm in Dubai in 2017, in the lobby is an immense ornate Murano glass volcanic eruption of twisted glass prongs. I really enjoyed this daytrip, it gave me a taster, but if I were to do it again, I’d probably just catch the local ferry (rather than a set excursion) so I can move at my pace, make a longer day of it and stop for lunch in one of Burano’s stunning canal side café’s. At £31 each for a 4hour excursion, this was a very good value for money excursion, I would recommend it. We found some lovely places to eat Cicchetti (similar to Tapas) during the day and very reasonably priced restaurants for our evening meal. I think the rule of thumb here is to stay off the beaten track, stick to the back streets and you will find many wonderful restaurants at what I would describe as normal ‘London’ prices. I certainly didn’t experience anything massively over inflated in price. In the evening we enjoyed great food, good wine, a cocktail or three (thank you Bra Bar). Our whole break was further enhanced by bumping into local friends from home as we passed each other in an alley way…. what are the odds!!! Our departure, again with Alilaguna water taxi, we chose to take from Rialto Bridge on the Orange Line. A great way to depart the city as you travel a good length of Grand Canal. I love Venice, I would completely recommend it for anyone loving history, architecture, food, drink, cultural experiences, or just to sit, soak up the atmosphere and reset the mind and body. Venezia e molto bella!
01 November 2021
Like a lot of people, I’ve been to London many times for work and leisure. There are parts of this itinerary I’ve visited many times and yet still this globally iconic city never ceases to entertain me. My friend and I booked 2nights, end of October at Bermonds Locke aparthotel, just a 12min walk south of Tower Bridge. Bermondsey Street and The Shard to the west, Butlers Wharf and Shad Thames to the east. This is SE1, artisan deli’s, coffee houses and restaurants are scattered around every cobbled street corner. The vibe is laid back, urban oasis, cultural, creative, one of the most inspiring parts of London. I love this borough and it's a perfect base for a weekend or longer stays. Checked in, we headed out and grabbed a baguette from a local deli to eat on the go. Ambling our way through the back streets toward Waterloo (a leisurely 45min walk), discovering little gems along the way, gated community gardens, hidden street markets, galleries…. even stumbled across The Ministry of Sound ….. dancing shoes to the ready!! At Waterloo we met with our Veluba Tour Guide, Hannah. Veluba are pedal-powered, electrically assisted tricycle cabs, as such they have zero emission…. sits well with me! On our hour long ‘Landmark London’ tour we learnt some facts about Big Ben, Whitehall, No.10 Downing St. Stopping in Trafalgar Square for 5mins walkabout, we popped into St Martin in the Fields Church finding a quintet practising Vivaldi….one of this trips memory gems for me. Getting back to our feet we walked through Somerset House (beautiful place to ice skate during the winter). Continuing along The Strand, passing The Old Bank of England, Royal Courts of Justice, St Pauls Cathedral, Pudding Lane, Tower of London, Tower Bridge along the way glimpsing narrow cobbled alleys leading to ancient monuments and churches nestled between modern buildings….. gentle reminders of the enormous wealth of history London offers beyond the conventional sightseeing. Next morning we strolled east taking in Butlers Wharf and Shad Thames. In the 1870’s this was the largest warehouse complex on the Thames. Depicted in movies as gloomy working docks, this is now a chic redevelopment of luxury apartments and restaurants. The distinctive iron bridges in Shad Thames were once used for moving goods from warehouse to warehouse and have been retained as part of the redevelopment. Heading back west, we followed the river front as promenade & side streets allow, taking in City Hall, HMS Belfast, Hays Galleria to Borough Market, an extensive ‘foodies’ feast nestled under the railway arches…. make sure you arrive hungry!!! We visited The Sky Garden, a foliage-filled atrium, London’s highest public garden. The viewing gallery on the 43rd floor of the Walkie Talkie building offers 360degree views over London. With floor-to-ceiling glass windows, this green oasis provides fantastic views of the famous rooftops of London, with an open-air terrace providing views across the Thames. Free to go up but need to pre-book. Treat yourself to a cocktail, £13+. We continued on, taking in The Golden Hinde, Globe Theatre, Tate Modern, skatepark under South Bank Centre, stopping for a mulled wine under the bridge arches, eventually passing The London Eye on to Waterloo Bridge. With time to kill before dinner we continued to The Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, The Mall, Admiralty Arch and down Whitehall, passing Horse Guards Parade, Downing St, The Cenotaph. Our last day….. Mamma Mia The Party at O2…. I think that one deserves it’s own blog, so watch this space. You’re never far from food when in London. Wherever possible I try to find somewhere a little querky or off the beaten track to eat. We found a great street food market round the back of South Bank Centre, one of the best Samosa I’ve ever had. I love to eat at Wahaca South Bank, I know it’s a chain but I really love the setting and vibe of the place. Built from converted shipping containers, funky and vibrantly painted, be sure to get a window seat upstairs for the best view, or outside on the terrace if weathers allows. Meal for two with cocktails £50. I can organise many types of experiential breaks in London for you, whether your interest is arts, history, people, classic sightseeing, photography, shopping, walking or food. My friends goal was to see some classic sights and just soak up the ambience of our great Capital…… I think we nailed it :-))
16 September 2021
I was asked by some great friends, ‘fancy a walking holiday in the Peak District?’. The last time I was in this area and indeed hiking was some 30 years ago as a late teen and I remembered it being a challenging hike then. Would I be able to hack it a 50??? Would I be able to keep up with the group mostly in their 30’s & 40’s….. only way to find out is to do it… so ‘YES’ came splurting out of my mouth! We booked 3 nights in August. There are loads of accommodation options in the area, we opted some of us to stay at the Premier Inn, clean, modern, welcoming, in a good location on the outskirts of Buxton but easily accessible for an evening walk into town for drinks & supper. A couple of us stayed at The Palace Hotel Buxton, a period building of c1868, set in five acres of stunning landscaped gardens, centrally located and next to the train station, a grand looking hotel. You’d need to have a conversation with me to hear which hotel I’d prefer to stay in!! Our first hike was Mam Tor & Hope an 8-miler which is one of the most famous walks in the Peak District, well and truly deserves a place on your Peak District bucket list! Starting in the valley at Castleton, ascending the 517metre peak of Mam Tor (Mother’s Hill.. and it was a mother of a hill!), along the ridges and descending into Hope for a refreshing pub stop…. of course…. continuing on through the lowlands back to Castleton. Castleton is a great place to stay if you want to explore the surrounding countryside and there are many circular walks for you to try. Another place which can be very useful as a base for your Mam Tor exploration is Edale, from here Mam Tor is a beautiful (albeit steep) walk and it’s also the official start of the Pennine Way! Our second walk, The Roaches and Lud’s Church, although shorter (7miles) was more challenging underfoot. The Roaches is an iconic Peak District destination, a rocky ridge that rises steeply to 505m, towering over the Tittesworth Reservoir. Lud’s Church is one of the highlights of this walk, and my favourite of the weekend – an atmospheric, moss-covered chasm that hides plenty of secrets… too much history to write in this blog. The walls of the rock on either side stretch 18m up in the air, and are coated in sweet-smelling, vivid green moss - check out Lud's Church in My Videos. Lud’s Church offers the perfect contrast to the rocky, open ridge of the Roaches, and for a brief moment on your walk, will transport you to another world. Buxton has many great places to eat and drink in the evening. I particularly enjoyed The Royal Oak a charming country pub in Hurdlow, 53Degrees@ Buxton Brewery Tap House with good food, service, atmosphere and The Old Sun Inn, a 17th century converted coaching inn with a great selection of gins. Our itinerary didn’t allow time for further excursions on this trip but there is so much on offer in the area that you could easily fill a week long holiday. There are many more walks, Speedwell Cavern, Blue John Mines, Matlock, Bakewell, Leek the list goes on. All in I spent £450 including, petrol (from West Sussex), accommodation, food & drink aplenty…. even a bit of clothes shopping!!! If this or another holiday like this is of interest to you then please get in touch to discuss. In the meantime, dust off your hiking boots and get practising.
15 February 2021
There are many ways in which we can see the world be it a package or tailormade holiday, stays in luxury hotels or homestays in community projects, self-drive touring or organised group tour. There are so many different ways to see the highlights and experience a singular destination. So when asked “Can you give me a quote for (insert destination)?”, there is so much more I need to know about you and what you want to gain from your trip before I can even begin to create the right itinerary for you. Like many people I enjoy all kinds of travel from bucket & spade family package holiday to city or beach breaks with my friends. But there’s one type of travel that I’m really passionate about, that really gets my travel spirit soaring…… Adventure Travel. What is Adventure Travel? My love for adventure travel began at a very early age. As the youngest of four, every summer until I was 10years old, we took off for most of the summer holidays to stay with my aunt & uncle on St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly. It was a rich experience; helicopter flights, watching gig races, pleasure boats rides to other islands, beach picnics, rock climbing, lancing by torchlight, shrimping, mackerel fishing, ice creams, crab sandwiches, cornish pasties that ooze over the side of the plate, sitting on huge cannons and walking the walled Garrison that once protected the islands from the Spanish Armada in the 1500’s…. So many experiences, rich history, exhilarating excitement and adventure, I was immensely privileged to have lived these Enid Blyton summers. To me, Adventure travel conjures up ideals of merging with the locals, journeying off the beaten track, experiencing a little of the journeys of our great explorers, eating where the locals eat, seeing sights at times not flooded with mainstream tourists, being active, staying in community villages, experiencing local customs and everyday life. Exploring on foot and taking time to just sit and be part of the local vibe. Adventure travel doesn’t have to be some epic, once in a lifetime, bucket list destination….. although that is preferable to me. But you’ll find adventure travel on a surfing weekend in Cornwall, or walking the coastline once dominated by smugglers. Tread in the footsteps of Romans, exploring the ruins along Hadrians Wall, one of the richest examples of Roman history in the UK. Adventure travel can be done completely independently but I prefer to do it in the safe and experienced hands of experts like Intrepid Travel, G Adventure to name but a few. These guys specialise in small group adventure travel, they will take care of you from the start meeting point to farewell departure point, all you need do is get yourself there all of which I can arrange for you. Why do it? I thrive on these new experiences. I love to learn about new cultures, or just new things about cultures already known. I love the challenges that it presents, it takes me out of my comfort zone, tests my ability to cope with what the journey throws at me (skills I can apply to life). We’re all very different and so Adventure travel may not speak to your soul but to me the challenges of travelling solo, meeting new people, learning a new activity, enduring the elements, and testing my physical ability is so exhilarating for me. Navigating these challenges gives me a sense of satisfaction, of something achieved, something I can look back on and feel like I have come away with new skills, new experiences, new understanding, new knowledge. Don’t get me wrong, I love a fly’n flop beach holiday but they serve a different purpose. What’s on my Adventure Travel List? Antarctica (fingers crossed this is happening in November 2021 with Intrepid Travel) India, North & South Turtle Hatching Sailing Croatia coast La Tomatina Festival – reminds me of a food fight I experienced in my 20’s (so much fun) Lisbon Food tour Galapagos Islands Greek Island Hopping What about you? Do you fancy some Adventure Travel? Where would you go? What would you want to experience? If you’d like some help with shaping your adventure thoughts, or know someone who would, then contact me on the link above and let’s get talking. If it leads to nowhere then that’s the journey, at the very least we will be enriched by having met each other. Adventure is all around us if we open our eyes and minds to experiencing it.
22 January 2021
The Recipe to Successful Travel - Is there a recipe? The Travel, Tourism and Hospitality Industry has enriched and influenced most of my working life and throughout this, planning lay at the heart of successful travel. Successful planning is key to everything and knowing why you want to take the journey and what you want to achieve is the first stage of planning. Successful planning and advice lays at the heart of my unique business which specialises in advising and organising your travel agenda. Later in 2021 I will be embarking on an Antarctic Cruise with Intrepid Travel, a trip won last year through an industry competition and now I need to embrace this unique life changing opportunity and create my successful travel plan. Why do I want to do this trip? This unique life changing opportunity is a cocktail of adventures to be explored, embraced, valued and an experience that will maximise knowledge of the Antarctic and adventure cruising. This adventure with an off the beaten track agenda excites my inner passion for travel. The journeying will take me through a myriad of experiences: meeting new cultures, people, challenges, developing a new inner strength to become physically and emotionally fit. It is a life changing turning point, a milestone from which new educational experiences can grow. It is an opportunity to be shared with all who have a love for travel and who value that planning is central to every unique holiday experience. The trip will help me to advise and help you get the best from your unique Antarctic Adventure – should you choose to go. What are your reasons for travelling? Visiting friends & relatives, fly & flop, archaeological & cultural focus, language development, practice a hobby …. Different choices require different arrangements: flight & car hire, All Inclusive beach package, City Break, Homestay, sailing/cycling tour. There’s little point me suggesting you an All-Inclusive beach package if you want to learn about Greek Mythology. So, to the person organising your travel (that’s me), working hard to understand your travel needs is my speciality. I aim to ensure you feel understood, then I create the right itinerary for you. What do I want to achieve? Learning about the Antarctic’s natural environment, history of explorers, to experience some Argentine culture and then share the unique experience and photos with my friends & clients. I want to experience some optional activities which require a good degree of fitness, skill and tolerance a of cold. What does this mean for me? I need to plan. Things need effectively planning prior to departure, some things now, some later in the year will prepare me and maximise the benefits which I can gain from the experience. What would you want to achieve on your travels? Relaxation, learn or practice an activity, meet new friends, experience a new culture, have some time to yourself, learn a language, attend a conference, personal development goals, the list is endless, and I can help you to plan your unique future travel adventures with my unique travel planning skills. Who can help you to make your travel recipe successful? Whether you’re embarking on an epic once in a lifetime journey or taking an annual relaxing 2 week fly & flop, once you know why you want to do it and what you want to achieve, you have got the building blocks to your Successful Travel experience. What next? That’s where I can help; my honed travel planning skills can help you to successfully plan your adventure, perfect planning with a person who is passionate about maximising the client’s experiences to be gained from their travels. If you’d like help with the recipe to your Successful Travel, then please do get in touch and let me help you plan to realise your dreams with the minimum of stress… Wherever there’s a travel blog, there’s always more to follow. Interest? Please follow my adventures as they unfold on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/sallyjoasser
16 December 2020
I’ve always been quite an easy going kinda girl. Good job! Little did any of us know what 2020 had in store for us! For all of us it has been immensely challenging bringing income insecurity, stunted social lives, home teaching whilst (for some) home working (for me this was tough), exhaustion of adapting every aspect of our everyday living….. second thinking everything, can we go to the park? Can I invite my friends in the house? Is 6 people ok or is it just 1? Is the local shop open? Can I visit the pub, who with……. It’s all been so exhausting…. let alone to mention the illness and desperately sad early departure of some of our friends and families. From my business perspective it’s been quite a challenge to keep up with all the changes, cancellations, refunds and re-bookings. I have been very grateful for the patience, understanding and kindness my clients have shown me as I fought to resolve their travel plans. Their attitude left me feeling a great faith in humanity. Great news…business is now picking up. All of my enquiries at the moment are for bucket list, once in a lifetime holidays….. What I’m hearing is ”we’ve not spent our holiday budget this year, so lets bundle it together with next years and do that trip we always wanted to”. Although I have not pinned down exact dates for these departures yet, we are well on the way of planning them, to be taken as and when restrictions are lessened. I’m not a hugely techie person (nor a Technophobe) but I’ve embraced the way of the Zoom and now much prefer a Zoom meeting than a conventional phone call for business and social. On a personal front I’ve tried to embrace all that has been within my control and worked to create it into positive experiences. I upgraded my 28year old bicycle and got back out on my wheels. I’ve always enjoyed being on the water and living by the sea it seems a sin not to do it, so I invested in a paddleboard and have spent many hours on the sea and up river in my local area. I hit the big 50 and was able to have a few mini celebrations within the national restrictions at the time. I even revisited my childhood (must have been feeling nostalgic turning 50!) and found a guilty pleasure…. Jigsaw puzzles!!! Next year is looking very exciting for my travels…... Firstly, in February I have a weekend lounging in a hot tub at a Lodge in The New Forest with girlfriends. March will be taking me on a short break to Venice with a girlfriend, this trip was postponed from last March, so fingers crossed. In the summer holidays I will be taking my children for two weeks in the beautiful Bulgarian countryside, enjoying the natural thermal spa’s, delicious food and great company of friends, my kids love this holiday. In the autumn I have a Yoga Retreat weekend in Rye, good to recharge my soul. Finally, in November I have the most fantastically exciting adventure booked... this trip will be my first holiday as a solo traveller so I feel a mixture of a little anxiety but mostly great excitement for experiencing all the adventure will hold for me, I will share more about this trip during the year. All of these types of holidays and more can be booked with me, so if you need a little help planning your travel calendar then please get in touch to discuss your plans, I can’t wait to start helping you. So, farewell 2020, I shan’t miss most of what you brought us, and welcome 2021 with hopefully some better offerings for the year. The photo's are a little selection of my 2020 highlights. Take care all and Happy New Year xxxx
13 January 2020
Christmas Skiing, La Plagne - France Our party comprised me, my sons 15 & 9, my cousin, his wife and 2 daughters 4 & 6 and two grandmas, a multi-generational party. Four skiers, one snowboarder, two novice young children and two non-skiers (grandmas). La Plagne Centre & Ski Circuit is about 2hrs30mins from Grenoble airport. It’s multiple villages at different altitudes are part of the Paradiski Ski Circuit. We only booked the La Plagne lift pass which was more than sufficient for our needs. There are plenty of wide cruising blue runs great for intermediates as well as a good selection of green, reds and blacks. There’s a complimentary inter village shuttle bus during day and into the evening, taxis are also available. La Plagne Centre has plenty of piste-side watering holes, I can thoroughly recommend the Choco Baileys Chantilly at La Vega, a hot chocolate laced with Baileys and plenty of cream (one for the Mummy’s!) It was so wonderful to lay in a deck chair a warm Vin Chaud in hand, crystal clear blue skies, and a face full of sunshine. Prices for a vin chaud, iced tea and a Fanta was 15Euro. Dinner at La Vega restaurant and for my family of 4 for a main and one drink each was 85Euro, great food, great service and a traditional Savoyard style cosy restaurant. Chalet Boulevard is a very cute three bedroom chalet, 2 bathrooms, 2 separate toilets, right on the edge of a blue run. The location was perfect for the skiers and turned out to be a good option for the grandma’s too as they had entertainment of watching the skiers all day from the warmth of our cosy chalet. Our hosts Tommy & Lorna gave us a very warm welcome. During our stay they proved to be wonderful people and a great credit to themselves and the company. A perfect social/professional balance of integrating into our family group, joining us socially for, engaging with the children and occasionally disappearing into the background at the appropriate time. They both catered for our every need. Our meals included breakfast, afternoon tea, and a 3 course dinner with unlimited wine. Typically breakfast was cereals, baguette, jams, Nutella, fresh porridge and eggs. Afternoon tea was a fresh cake each day, baguette, jams, Nutella. We fed the children dinner earlier which worked well and then allowed the adults to enjoy a leisurely dinner. Tommy cooked good hearty meals, Tartiflette, chicken and mushroom Stroganoff, lasagne, and of course a traditional roast turkey with all the trimmings on Christmas Day…. my belly was groaning after day 1! Ski Equipment Top Tips - Pre-book your equipment to help speed up the process - Collect your equipment as soon as possible after arrival, the process can be quite time consuming, tricky when you have young children at the end of a very long day. - If travelling with young children, remember you need to carry ALL of the equipment yours and theirs back to your chalet. Anything/one you can enlist to assist with this is beneficial, we took a couple of sledges down with us to load up with all the boots and helmets, leaving hands free to carry the multitude of ski’s and poles as well as hands of tired little people. - Take a good dose of humour with you - I was close to sense of humour failure, and my children were old enough to help! Ski School Top Tips I was on a chair lift one day, next to a young 7/8year old who’s instructor had put him on the chairlift on his own. He was crying his eyes out because he was so cold. We chatted and managed to get a little smile out of him. So first top tip…… - Book private ski school, it cost us £100 more for 2 beginners than group lessons but well worth it. Although this meant 1 hour less than a group lesson it was a solid 2 hours of instruction, no wasted time, no standing around waiting your turn, getting cold. It also allowed the flexibility to adapt with their development more appropriately. They also benefit from having an afternoon lesson, thus avoiding the stress of trying to get everyone kitted up first thing in the morning. - A Grandparent is very handy to babysit the little people so you can still pop out with your skiing pals. Non-Ski Activities - The location of our chalet, right on the edge of a blue run meant that we had the most enormous sledge run once the piste had closed to skiers. You’ll have to head to my Facebook page Sally-Jo Asser – Travel Counsellors to see the video footage. It was so exhilarating to be bombing down the slopes on sledge and bumboard racing with my sons, a really fun, post dinner activity. - When the pistes were closed we went out to do MotoNeige, a convoy of 8 skidoos. It was dark, crystal clear skies, stars as far as the eyes could see, a soft backdrop of the mountains enveloping us and the twinkling lights of the villages below. We bombed up piste, down piste, across piste, off piste, another exhilarating experience to add to my portfolio. - There are also plenty of other non-ski activities, spa leisure centres, Bobsleigh, Toboggan Luge, childrens creche, dog-sledding, certainly more than enough to occupy a family for a week. So in summary if there’s one thing to put on your bucket list for this year then add a family Christmas in the snow. Lots of fresh air, good food, great company...an amazing magical experience full of good wholesome family fun.
01 July 2019
So another year has gone by and it’s time for the next girls holiday. Mid June, 5 ladies, 4 nights at The Roda Beach Resort & Spa, Corfu, all-inclusive. We flew with Easyjet from Gatwick on the early 6am flight, arriving to be met by our private taxi so we could avoid the time consuming hotel drop off’s (very important when you’re on a short break). A swift 50 minute taxi journey and we were at our hotel in time for lunch. The hotel is situated on the beautifully mountainous north coast of the island, with views across the Ionian Sea to Albania. An attractive hotel, spacious lobby, pretty manicured gardens, cobbled pathways, selection of bars, restaurants, ice cream parlour, creperie/dessert bar (I liked this area!), good quality food – all boxes ticked for us. The main pool was large with different areas for little kids, water slide, nice design with a walkway over the top. We had swim up family suites, which suited us as we enjoyed the relaxation of our quieter area, with it’s own bar and amazing Dionysia who took to serving us poolside – I’m not sure that was her job spec but very nice customer service it was. She took the effort to remember our names and was pleasantly sociable. At night the hotel pools were under lit with an exotic blue haze, it really did look very pretty. The walk along the beach, east is 15/20 mins to the main part of Roda (quite small and quiet) where you come across a few beach taverna, which have sun loungers for rent (5Euro per day), boat trips, kayaks for hire etc. One morning we went for a cuppa to Laluz Taverna, a very pleasant start to the day, also a good option if you want a change of scene to eat out (breakfast/snacks 4-8Euro, mains 6-19Euro). In the other direction along the beach for 10mins is a cliff, it’s easy to wade out in the water around the peninsular, just heads to more little beaches, just good fun for a paddle, kids would love it. The main aim of this holiday was to fly and flop, read, chat, laugh, eat, drink, sunbathe - but I get itchy feet, I need to see what’s beyond the hotel gates! I hired a little car for the day (35 Euros) and embarked on a full day trip. First stop 30 minutes drive to the east the charming harbour town of Kassiopi, unique among Corfu resorts in having both a very picturesque setting and a fair amount of history. It is an attractive resort with traditional narrow streets and overlooked by the ruins of an ancient castle. The magnificent backdrop of Mount Pantokrator and hills covered with olive groves, vines and citrus plantations make a very pleasing vista. We stopped for a walk and a drink in a harbour front café (fresh OJ & sparkling water 6Euro). Driving on to visit The White House in Kalami, home of the famed Durrell’s, now a restaurant. A very picturesque setting to dine in but you pay for the view and history (mains were 15Euro+). It would make for a lovely venue for a treat. We didn’t have time to eat as I’d scheduled a meeting (yes, a bit of work whilst on hols) with the Sales Director at the IKOS Dassia to learn about the hotel. IKOS Dassia is a stunningly beautiful property, earning every bit of it’s 5* rating. From the long sandy beachfront, the level of service and inclusions, the variety of dining options, quality of food, and if you like your wine, each restaurant has it’s own chiller room on view for storage – I was in heaven! Staying here is Ultra All Inclusive and even includes car hire. If you want to dine out, the hotel has arrangements with a selection of local restaurants to get that local dining experience. I’m sold on the hotel, so am plotting when I can book! We visited Paleokastritsa, the Monastery (donation) and did a 40ish mins boat trip to the caves (10Euro), both interesting/fun things to do. Along the drive back to Roda we took the back roads, a maze of tiny single track lanes, through pretty little villages, with rustic churches and homes, village squares where the locals were just sitting out. A few wrong turns, a few educated guesses and we found ourselves closer to home than we thought. I’m so pleased to have been out to explore, it’s dead easy to drive, had a great mini adventure and a few more of my travel boxes are now ticked. I really recommend a stay on the north coast of Corfu either at Roda Beach Resort & Spa, or Kassiopi harbour town. If you really feel like splashing out, the IKOS Dassia is the one for you. I certainly aim to return to Corfu again – I want to do a boat trip to Paxos & Anti Paxos – the more I travel, the more I add to my list! Get in touch if you’d like to chat through some Corfu holiday ideas. Look forward to advising you.
01 April 2019
If you don’t have much time to spare in your busy stressful life what better way to spend it than relaxing at one of the many bubbling hot tub retreats nestled deep in the UK’s lush green countryside or picturesque coast. From quirky beach huts with stunning sea views to a cosy converted red bus. Escape to a beautiful cottage, stunning barn, or hop aboard a stylish boat. Whatever your idea of holiday heaven is, our choice is unrivalled. I recently stayed in a Becton Lodge with hot tub at Hoburne Naish on the Hampshire coast, just on the outskirts of The New Forest. The Lodge was perfect, very comfortable, spacious, a great open plan social space of kitchen, dining and lounge area, loads of storage space and washing machine for those longer stays. The coastal walks just a few metres away, good onsite facilities. The best bit (actually the reason I booked!) a sizeable hot tub, bath water hot, on our own gated verandah. Who knew one could spend so long in a hot tub! What a great short break! Revives the soul. I can arrange this and other short breaks in the UK. I work with Hoseasons and we have just become the first agency in the UK to sell Sykes Holiday Cottages. Please get in touch to book your weekend break.
11 March 2019
MSC Bellisima for One Night Only I was fortunate enough to experience an overnight onboard MSC Bellisima whilst in Southampton in March 2019. I’ll be honest, although I do have a passion for being on the water and have enjoyed being onboard a dive liveaboard, chartering yachts and catamarans, a bit of dinghy and hobie cat sailing, windsurfing and waterskiing, MSC Bellisima was my first cruise experience on such a large vessel, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I can assure you she did not disappoint me, I will certainly be recommending her to my clients. There’s a great selection of cabins types from comfortable inside or balcony cabins to duplex and royal suites. Each cabin is equipped with ZOE, the very first virtual personal cruise assistant. With a simple “Ok ZOE” (in 1 of 7 languages) she can reply to hundreds of questions regarding your cruise experience from daily programme to Club member benefits or information for the kids. With her you can explore onboard activities, choose and book restaurants, your shows, your excursions or your spa session. She also gives you a hand to check your bill and learns from every interaction you have with her so she can offer an even more personalised service. The vessel is fully equipped with innovative technology to enhance and personalise your experience onboard from the app to the interactive screens on board, helping you to find your way around as well as being able to locate your travel companions. I tried a few of the eateries, all of them were outstanding. Marketplace Buffet with spectacular sea views is open 20 hours a day. The food is as varied as it is delicious. You can choose from a wide variety of offerings depending on the mealtime. Breakfast offered full English, Continental, omelette to order, pancakes and waffles, porridge and cereals and more. Lunchtime, fresh fruit and salad, Pizza, Pasta, Ethnic dishes, Grills, Roasts, Desserts, even has a dedicated children’s food bar and much more. Even in the early hours of the morning a much-needed pizza bar is fully operational. Dinner in the very elegant Il Ciliegio restaurant…. Marinated Alaskan King Crab, Shrimp Risotto, Angus Beef Tenderloin and Coconut & Raspberry Posset, delicious. I was able to sample a few treats from the speciality restaurants; a particular favourite was Kaito Teppanyaki with the chef performing his cooking skills – I love food theatre. I also really enjoyed the ice cream and crepes parlour on Galleria. At the heart of all the ship is Galleria Bellisima, an incredible two deck inside 96meter promenade featuring a spectacular 80meter long LED dome ceiling, lined with places to shop, eat and drink and filled with onboard activities of all kinds, at any time of day or night. Watching its displays whilst out for a stroll was an evening’s entertainment! MSC Bellisima offers endless fun for the whole family, from the high-tech London Theatre seating 975, 2 exclusive Cirque du Soleil shows to the interactive multi-storey Grand Canyon themed aquapark, aerial assault course and multiple swimming pools. The Amusement area was one of my favourites with 2 full size Formula 1 car simulators, bowling alleys, VR Maze, XD Cinema, Sports Bar, basketball court which doubles as a nightclub. There are dedicated clubs and activities from babies up to 17years, allowing parents a little R&R from their kiddies/teens. All age groups have its own programme of activities, events and dedicated areas. The Aurea Spa is a peaceful haven to relax and chill out. It offers a wide selection of beauty treatments and therapies to help you find your cruising mojo. I was keen to visit MSC Yacht Club, to find out what could possibly be more luxurious than the main ship. Located on the prestigious foredecks the MSC Yacht Club is an even more luxurious cruise within a cruise. It is an exclusive luxury private club experience with its own cabins, personal butler, restaurant, bar, pool and sun deck, while also allowing you to enjoy access to the countless recreation and entertainment options the rest of the ship affords. A great option for those celebrating a special occasion or those wishing for a little quieter experience whilst still having so many ship facilities at hand. MSC Bellisima far exceeded my expectations and I would thoroughly recommend her to solos, couples, families and multi-generational. You’re sure to have as fun packed and relaxed holiday as you wish for. If you are interested to know more, please feel free to contact me. She’s departed Southampton now and will be sailing around the Med until the autumn 2019 before moving on to sail the shores of the UAE for the winter. Into Spring 2020 she will continue her voyage through the Indian Ocean and onto the Far East. There are lots of different itinerary duration from 4 to 17nights, something to suit everyone. Happy Cruising
04 December 2018
Bear with me whilst I break from guidelines of 750 words max for a blog…. I’ve got too much to tell you! Some 20 years ago husband and I, along with two of his colleagues that I barely knew at the time, booked a last-minute holiday to Playa del Carmen. I’m happy to say we had an amazing holiday, although it was not as cheap as my husband had led our friends to believe (now a standing joke)! This couple have been our dearest friends ever since. I was overjoyed when they suggested a return trip. We booked the holiday for the end of May for 14 nights and we are now two families comprising four adults and four boys aged 7-12 years old. We stayed at The Occidental Grand Xcaret, on the Riviera Maya. On arrival, mid evening, our transfer arrived into a sweeping, discreetly lit driveway, up to the reception foyer. The sheer grandeur and tropical surroundings felt like stepping into Jurassic Park. After checking in, we were guided through the grounds to our room. Immediately we began to experience the surprises this hotel had to offer. Within yards we had encountered Macaws, monkeys, and these funny little miniature Capybara creatures, we never did learn what they truly were – this was just the start of many animal encounters. First morning, due to jet lag our 7year old was up at 4am, so we walked to look at our closest pool. The temptation was too great, a paddle wasn’t enough, so we took a little dip. With hindsight, I’m not so sure I’d do that again as the very next day, in broad daylight, and a pleasantly active pool a large Iguana decided to take a swim to the other side, quite an extraordinary experience! Our closest pool was freeform, surrounded by lush tree’s and a poolside bar. There were four jacuzzi pools sunken into the pool too – heaven! This place just keeps on giving. Mid-afternoon a troop of monkeys arrive across the rooftops of the surrounding accommodations to play and feast in the trees over hanging the pool, a regular occurrence. We were careful not to stand directly under them, once they’ve eaten the fruit, they discard the husk downwards! The next day we decide to explore the grounds before breakfast (still jetlagged). We found the adult only saltwater pool, this is a living pool with a channel out to sea, so the pool is filled with every lapping wave. As we stroll the perimeter, ankle deep, our ‘eagle eyed’ eldest son discovered an octopus about the size of a dinner plate, just resting there. It kindly allowed us time to take some photos before it ‘inked’ us and thrusted away. And then came the Coati’s. These cute long-tailed animals wander the hotel grounds freely. We bumped into them a few times as we wandered to breakfast. They’re curious but quite shy. By this point my children are teetering on the edge of wildlife sensory overload! However, the magnificent animal kingdom did not stop there - iguanas, lizards, geckos, deer, snakes, tropical fish, birds of paradise, hummingbirds, all before we even got into Xcaret Park where the wonders continued. With our holiday purchase we decided to pay extra to have unlimited access to Xcaret Eco-Archaeological Park which is situated right next door. We had visited this park BC (before children!) as a day trip. The park celebrates the cultural, archaeological, and ecological history of Mexico. It has its own private entrance close to the beach restaurant, great for doing a morning visit, and you can walk or catch a boat from inside the main hotel foyer, all great experiences. For me, by far the best experience at Xcaret are the underground rivers. There are three to choose from, varying in length, so once you’ve got your life vest on and chosen your path, you climb down into the river, it’s a bit chilly but if I can do it so can you. We floated and paddled a little down river through the caves lit by natural light from air vents above. I can’t explain how wonderful this experience is. One evening we decided to go to the Xcaret Theatre. The building was awesome, a combination of small stadium size and theatre with stunning Mexican design. It even has waterfalls cascading around the exterior which you could see from inside as it is open sided. The show’s a spectacular performance telling the story of the Mexican culture, traditions and regions of the country. A fascinating show of epic proportions, take a snack and water as it’s quite a long show but you can leave at any time. Food in the park was varied but quite pricey but as we had unlimited access, we could pop back to the hotel to eat or usually we organised our visits as half days around meal times. On a couple of occasions, to have a change of scene, we caught a taxi into Playa del Carmen, only about £5. It dropped us at a taxi rank, so it was really easy to get a taxi back at the end of the day. Playa del Carmen had grown a lot since our first visit. There are many shops selling Mexican trinkets and souvenirs along the pedestrianised central parade (great for the kids), and so much choice for seafront eateries on the great expanse of beach. We also found Paseo del Carmen, an open-air mall where you walk along cobblestones paths to the different shops like Gant, Vilebrequin, Tommy Hilfiger, Zara and the likes of, some eateries and coffee houses too. This was a very enjoyable afternoon out. The Occidental Grand Xcaret, in my opinion, is undoubtedly one of the top all-inclusive resorts in Riviera Maya and makes the perfect getaway for those seeking tranquillity and adventure. Facilities and service here are second to none with a choice of 11 restaurants and 10 bars allowing you to choose to snack, take an informal gourmet lunch or a candle-lit dinner whatever takes your fancy. There are seven swimming pools (some exclusive) and an excellent kid’s club, there’s something here to suit all kinds of traveller. We booked this holiday thinking we knew what we were in for. The Occidental Grand Xcaret and Xcaret Eco-Archaeological Park excelled on every level and surpassed all my expectations. A fantastic holiday and experience for us all.
23 November 2018
One of the highlights of my year is the few nights that I take away with my girly friends. No families, no work, no routine. Just swim, chat, laugh, read, eat and drink. Friend therapy is my best tonic to add balance to my manic work and family life. Over the last six years, four of my dear friends and I have been so fortunate to have the support of our families to have this relaxing break experience. We’ve been on a spa weekend at Sandbanks, a shopping trip to London, and mini breaks to Majorca, Kos, Corfu and Portugal. It can sometimes be tricky choosing a destination. Seemingly so many boxes to tick, short travel duration, cost, weather, hotel facilities, preferred meal plan to name but a few. With a little give and take, a bit of chat and a glass or two of wine, we usually come to a happy agreement and book it there and then! Thankfully we all agree the main agenda for a girly holiday is to spend time relaxing with great travel companions. In my opinion a successful girl’s holiday needs, sunshine, a good pool, beaches, a selection of places to eat and drink, and maybe an excursion or two (my friends will moan at me for that one!) A Guide to the Perfect Girls holiday We’re pampered, manicured, pedicured, coiffed, the bags are packed, children are handed over, it’s time to go. We treat ourselves to valet parking, before heading to an airport restaurant or lounge for a welcomed glass of champagne (or whatever the favourite tipple is). Let the holiday begin. On arrival, we rendezvous with our pre-booked private transfer to be whisked away without delay to our chosen hotel. Sun cream at the ready, swimming pool here we come! A complete relaxation with a good book, and a glass of something never too far away. The flow of the next few days usually turns out to be quite organic. We agree a leisurely breakfast time to meet, and then head to pool or beach to sunbathe, read, swim and sometimes a competition of Lilo Olympics. On occasions it has been known for me to participate in a little light aqua-aerobics, but I have learnt to only do this if accompanied by one of my friends for fear of being paired again with a hairy man of a much older generation! During these carefree days we typically enjoy lots of swimming, laughing, reading, chatting and putting the world to right. If I’m lucky I can sometimes pull someone away to do an excursion boat trip, or even just a walk to explore the area. As late as possible in the day we head to our rooms allowing time to change for the evening. Typically, dinner is our entertainment we all agree on this. Sometimes hotel entertainment is ok, or we’ll head to the local nightlife. The day to return home, not unexpectedly, is a sad day. But during the coming days, weeks, months I know I can draw upon my memories of a fantastic relaxing break with my great friends. My favourite destination to date, for our girly holidays must be Corfu, which we have visited twice. We enjoy it so much we have booked again for June 2019. Corfu is one of the greenest islands partly due to the rainfall they receive September through to June but mostly due to the slender Cypress trees, thousands of olive trees that carpet the land and an abundance of fresh produce grown on the island, including tomatoes, kumquats, herbs and lemons. It benefits from being one of the sleepier of the Greek islands as long as you stay away from the more touristy towns. The coastline is quite stunning, long sweeping bays, small secluded coves accessible by narrow tracks or by boat, quaint little fishing villages and harbours. I thoroughly recommend a girly holiday, whether it’s a shopping trip, beach or city break, long or short haul it’s all great fun. Contact me if I can help you organise your Friend Therapy trip.
28 September 2021
I visited Dubai back in Jan/Feb of 2017 for 5nights. Staying with friends family I was fortunate that I would get to experience Dubai from an ex-pat perspective, I always love a homestay experience (love an hotel stay too!). Their home in Arabian Ranches on the outskirts of Dubai is a good location if you wanted to rent a villa and car hire, otherwise it would be better to be more central. We had a fantastic fun packed few days. I’m not one for heights but top of my bucket list was the Burj Khalifa, currently the World’s tallest building towering 160 floors. We had tickets for the Observation decks on L124/125, you can also buy another package which takes you to Sky at The Top on 148. The views are breath taking, no time to think about not enjoying heights!!! I quite enjoyed all the displays along the journey through the building, explaining the history, innovation and development of the construction, very interesting. Around the base of Burj Khalifa is The Dubai Fountain Lake, a captivating water, music and light spectacle in Downtown Dubai. The Dubai Fountain is the world’s tallest performing fountain at over 900 ft in length – equivalent to over two football pitches. The fountain performs to a range of different songs from classical to contemporary Arabic and world music. Quite a spectacle to see. You can pay for a boat ride on the lake or just stroll the boardwalk, which is what we did before dining in one of the many waterside restaurants. If you’re interested in Dubai/UAE history I would recommend two museums. The Dubai Musuem & Al Fahidi Fort depicts everyday Dubai life in the days before the discovery of oil. Galleries recreate scenes from the Creek, traditional Arab houses, mosques, the souk, date farms and desert and marine life. For more recent history of how the UAE came to be then I’d recommend visiting Etihad Museum, I came away feeling like I understood Dubai more. One afternoon we took a hair raising drive, in a sand storm (that was an interesting experience!), into the desert to Anantara Qasr Al Sarab Resort for dinner…. Wow! What an amazing hotel…. A beautiful Arabian styled hotel set in the middle of the desert. Dinner was delicious, followed by relaxing with tea in the lobby. This would be a great place to combine and contrast with a Dubai city break, a completely different experience. Afternoon Tea at Plato’s in Atlantis The Palm was a wonderful experience. The selection of savouries and sweet treats look beautiful with a taste to match. I was in awe of the stunning Murano Glass chandelier, the focal point of the main lobby… worth a visit just to see that! The aquarium here is worth visiting, you can even go scuba diving in it! This hotel has so much to offer as well as the Aquaventure water park, the worlds largest right on the doorstep. A trip to Dubai would not be complete without visiting the Malls and shopping. I visited The Dubai Mall, with its world class aquarium, all the shops and eateries you could ever want, The Souk and an Olympic sized ice rink too, great if you want to cool down!. The Mall of the Emirates has good shopping and is worth a visit if you fancy a few hours skiing too. Souk Madinat Jumeirah is a lovely Arabian market, like stepping back into Disney’s Aladdin. Stroll through the alleys filled with oriental scents and discover richly coloured fabrics, traditional handicrafts and unique souvenirs. During my stay we ate at many different places, mostly international cuisine and was kindly hosted a lot of the time. Next time I visit I would like to take a tour of the old Dubai and eat in a few ‘off the beaten track’ places, this is something I can arrange if it would interest you. I really enjoyed Dubai and would happily return. I came away feeling initially that everything is a façade, a little bit ‘Disney’, but over time as I’ve reflected on that trip I now feel like there is so much more to explore beyond the obvious glitz and glam of the shiny skyscrapers, premium brand shopping malls and innovation of building and technology. A great destination to suit all kinds of folk. If you’d like to chat about your plans to visit Dubai then please get in touch via the link on my homepage.
Haywards Heath 06/02/2023
St Mary's 03/02/2019